Book review: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
2 Minute Read
Looking for a holiday read that’s equal parts entertaining and enlightening? You can’t go past this rich and multi-dimensional story of three female characters in their 70’s that highlights both the trials of ageing and the power of women and their friendships.
In a nutshell
Author Charlotte Wood has been described as “one of our most original and provocative writers”. And I couldn’t agree more. Writing about women in their 70’s shouldn’t count as either ‘original’ or ‘provocative’ but, unfortunately, it is. This novel weaves a rich, tense and fascinating story of what happens when three women get together after the death of their beloved friend.
Key take outs
- Female friendship is complex, fascinating, powerful and enduring
“At the same instant they each lifted a hand to shade their eyes, in a motion Adele had seen hundreds, thousands of times through all the decades of their friendship. She remembered them from long ago, two girls alive with purpose and beauty. Her love for them was inexplicable. It was almost bodily.”
Above all else, reading this novel made me grateful to be a woman. Be warned this is not a tale of elegant ageing and wise decisions. The characters are flawed, often petty and not always driven by the best motives. At the same time, the bond between the women is so intricate and well worn. It is both fragile and bombproof. The book reminded me how the best friendships preserve all the versions of who we are and will often shape how we remember ourselves.
- Old is not a personality trait or a defining life experience
“The characters in my book are not going to be frail little old ladies. I want to write a book where old people are the main characters, fully alive and thinking about the future and the present, not passively sitting around reflecting sadly on the glory days of their youth.”
To my embarrassment, I was blown away by how relatable the characters were. It was like looking into a life that was completely unknown to me. Like getting secret access to the inner thoughts of a man for instance – I joke. Through reading the novel it became clear how often I lean on stereotypes and assumptions when thinking about ageing and being older.
Now, thanks to the brilliance of Charlotte Wood’s writing, I just want to see more – more books, movies and TV about older women. I want us to think harder about who we showcase and how we represent older women in our work at Lexicon. I’m going to be ‘old’ in the not too distant future and I’d like to be seen and represented in a way that reflects my reality.
- Nerd alert: the book underlined, in bold, the importance of financial empowerment and education for women
“Nobody wants you when you’re old. You have to shore things up before this point. You have to face up to the future, to the worst possibilities, you have to prepare yourself. Anticipate, adapt, accept.”
The book terrified me, at times, when I glimpsed how older women are mostly invisible in our society. The character of Adele, in particular, lives a financially precarious existence. Despite multiple headlines telling me older women are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people, I hadn’t quite processed how this statistic can translate to a personal reality. The book underlined, once again, the need for a fairer super system for women and just how critical it is to close the gender pay gap.
This is a worthy and entertaining read. Perfect for those moments to yourself if you can grab any over Christmas. Enjoy!